Sunday, 21 January 2018

MUST READ: The Forgotten Longevity Benefits of Taurine

The Japanese have a life expectancy that is among the highest in the world. In fact, Okinawa, Japan’s famous “Island of Longevity,” likely has the world’s highest percentage of people over 100 years old.1

June 2013
By Ian Macleavy  
The Forgotten Longevity Benefits of Taurine
Undoubtedly, there are many factors that play into the life spans of the longest-living populations, but evidence shows that they all have one thing in common: high dietary intake of an amino acid called taurine.2
The connection between taurine and a long life is so strong that researchers have dubbed taurine, “The nutritional factor for the longevity of the Japanese.”3
Taurine promotes cardiovascular health, insulin sensitivity, electrolyte balance, hearing function, and immune modulation. In animal research, taurine protected against heart failure, reducing mortality by nearly 80%.4
Its benefits are so broad and extensive that scientists have described taurine as “a wonder molecule.”5
Taurine is found abundantly in healthy bodies.6 However, certain diets, particularly vegetarian or vegan diets, lack adequate amounts of taurine.7,8 Disease states—including liver, kidney, or heart failure, diabetes, and cancer—can all cause a deficiency in taurine.9-11 And aging bodies often cannot internally produce an optimal amount of taurine, making supplementation vital.12
That’s why those interested in longevity should consider this vital and super low-cost nutrient. In this article, you’ll learn how boosting taurine levels can contribute to better cardiovascular, metabolic, and neurologic health.

Why We Need Supplemental Taurine

In the enthusiasm to investigate new longevity compounds, sometimes the importance of venerable ones that have been around for decades is forgotten. Such is the case of taurine. Foundation members used to get taurine as part of multi-nutrient formula, but this product is not as popular as it once was.
A study released in November 2012 made the bold statement that taurine is one of the most essential substances in the body. The authors wrote:8 “Considering its broad distribution, its many cytoprotective attributes, and its functional significance in cell development, nutrition, and survival, taurine is undoubtedly one of the most essential substances in the body.”
Although it’s possible for your body to produce taurine on its own, you still need to obtain taurine through diet and supplementation in order to achieve optimal amounts of this essential nutrient.8,11,13
Because of taurine’s essential role in the body, supplementing with taurine can provide numerous health benefits, including restoring insulin sensitivity, mitigating diabetic complications, reversing cardiovascular disease factors, preventing and treating fatty liver disease, alleviating seizures, reversing tinnitus, and more.

Taurine Prevents Obesity

Taurine Prevents Obesity  
One of the ways taurine can help improve overall health is by fighting obesity. Obesity impacts every area of the body, especially because of the inflammation-generating abdominal fat stores. Human studies show that 3 grams per day of taurine for 7 weeks reduced body weight significantly in a group of overweight or obese (but not-yet-diabetic) adults.14 Subjects saw significant declines in their serum triglycerides and “atherogenic index,” a ratio of multiple cholesterol components that predicts atherosclerosis risk.
Various animal studies support the anti-obesity and lipid-lowering capabilities of taurine, both alone and combined with other natural products.15,16 These studies highlight taurine’s ability to improve glucose tolerance in obese animals, an important benefit given how many overweight people go on to develop diabetes.17,18
Perhaps most alarming, animal research reveals that obesity itself causes a decline in plasma taurine levels, which, in a vicious cycle, further promotes obesity.19 The observed decline in taurine levels was seen in mouse models of both genetic obesity and diet-induced obesity. Fortunately, in the same study, taurine supplementation interrupted the cycle, helping to prevent obesity and its consequences.19

Taurine Promotes Glucose Control—and Treats Diabetes

It is a known fact that taurine concentrations are lower among diabetics than they are in healthy individuals.20Given the above information about low taurine levels promoting obesity, it is clear that the low levels of taurine only serve to promote the interdependence of diabetes and obesity.20 Fortunately, human studies have shown that supplementing with just 1.5 grams of taurine a day can restore taurine levels to those in healthy control subjects, and additional animal research has shown that taurine supplementation can help prevent the onset of type II diabetes.20,21
Normal taurine concentrations are essential in controlling diabetes and the impact of its consequences. Animal studies have found that having adequate taurine concentrations helps control diabetes by reducing blood glucose and restoring insulin sensitivity.22 But it doesn’t stop there. Taurine helps prevent—and even reverse—many of the consequences associated with the disease.
For example, in adult diabetics, supplementation with 1.5 grams of taurine daily for just 14 days can reversediabetes-induced abnormalities in arterial stiffness and in the ability of the vasculature to respond to changes in blood flow or pressure.23 This can be critical to the longevity of diabetics, since these types of abnormalities are to blame for diabetics’ increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. In addition, studies in diabetic rats show that taurine helps protect heart function and helps prevent heart muscle damage, due in part to the ability of taurine to increase glucose transport from blood into energy-hungry heart muscle cells.24,25 In the process of increasing glucose transport into energy producing cells, blood glucose levels are lowered.
Additional animal and cell culture studies have revealed that taurine supplementation is effective against diabetic complications as well. Taurine supports nerve fiber integrity, potentially slowing or reversing painful diabetic neuropathy.26-29 And in the retina, another target of destructive elevated blood glucose, taurine fights glucose-induced oxidant stress and preserves the health of light-sensing cells in diabetic retinopathy.30-32Kidney damage, another consequence of diabetes, can be minimized with taurine supplementation in diabetic animals.33
Taurine: Bountiful Benefits  

Taurine: Bountiful Benefits

  • Taurine is the most abundant amino acid you’ve never heard of; it is found throughout the body, but especially in tissues containing excitable cells, like nerves and heart muscle.
  • Strong epidemiological evidence suggests that certain groups with the longest life spans consume higher amounts of taurine than those of us in the rest of the world.
  • Taurine supplementation can prevent diabetes and obesity in animal models, and can mitigate the effects of both conditions in humans.
  • Taurine supplementation strengthens heart muscle cells, extends their life spans, and protects them from damage, while reducing many of the factors that produce atherosclerosis and its deadly consequences.
  • Taurine protects retinal and inner ear cells from damage, normalizing the flow of calcium ions they require for proper function.
  • Evidence is growing for taurine’s role in preventing epileptic seizures and liver disease, two conditions that can be attributed to toxic effects on delicate tissue.
  • If you are interested in a longer, healthier, and more active life, consider supplementing with taurine.

Taurine Reverses Cardiovascular Disease Factors

Taurine has powerful effects on the heart and blood vessels. People with higher levels of taurine have significantly lower rates of dying from coronary heart disease.1,34 Additionally, they have lower body mass index, lower blood pressure, and lower levels of dangerous lipids. Many different mechanisms account for these powerful effects on the heart and blood vessels.
In animal models of hypertension, taurine supplementation lowers blood pressure by reducing the resistance to blood flow in the blood vessel walls and by minimizing nerve impulses in the brain that drive blood pressure up.35,36 Oral taurine supplementation has been found to reduce the arterial thickening and stiffness characteristic of atherosclerosis, to restore arteries’ responses to beneficial endothelial nitric oxide, and to reduce inflammation (a direct contributor to cardiovascular disease).34,35
A study of patients needing coronary bypass surgery showed that consuming a liquid drink containing 3 gramsof taurine, combined with 3 grams carnitine, 150 mg CoQ10, and basic multivitamin nutrients, reduced left-sided ventricular volume during the heart’s resting phase (diastole).37 This is important since an increased left-ventricular diastolic volume is the single greatest predictor of death in patients requiring bypass or stent placements. This makes taurine a vital component of such patients’ diets.
Enhance Your Exercise Performance  
Want a better workout? Try taking taurine supplements! Trained athletes who supplement with taurine experience better exercise performance, and cyclists ride longer distances with less fatigue.38,39
There’s good reason for these positive effects: Taurine helps muscles work harder, longer, and safer.
Harder. Taurine increases muscle contractility (the force with which muscle cells pull together) in both skeletal and cardiac muscle.40,41 That means more powerful workouts as muscle works harder.
Longer. Taurine helps exercising muscle rid itself of lactic acid.42,43 Lactic acid is what causes the feelings of pain and soreness and is what limits how much a muscle can continue to work. By cleaning up lactic acid, taurine helps muscles work longer.38,43
Safer. Working muscles generate oxidant stress and damage DNA, leading to the potential for muscle damage and poorer performance. Taurine protects muscles from such damage, so muscle works more safely.38,44

Taurine Provides Potent Retina Protection

Taurine is especially vital when it comes to eye health. Adequate levels can help prevent age-related vision loss; conversely, a deficiency can lead to troubling vision problems. Age-related vision loss has many different causes, but near the top is the impact of oxidative stress on light-sensing cells in the retina. Such damage leads to age-related macular degeneration and other forms of retinal disease.45
While taurine is found in very high concentrations in the retina, it declines significantly with age.46-48Additionally, the taurine found in the retina fights oxidative stress, especially in diabetes, and helps restore deficient levels of nerve growth factor, required for maintaining retinal health.46,30,31
When taurine levels are deficient, a variety of vision problems can occur including retinal ganglion cell degeneration,49 and in children, retinal dysfunction;7 taurine supplementation has been shown to ameliorate diabetic retinopathy.30 Evidence is strong that taurine is vital in maintaining optimal retinal function.50
Certain drugs deplete the body of taurine, which can induce retinal damage.48,49,51 These include frequently used chemotherapy drugs such as cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan®) and busultan (Bulsufex®) as well as the anti-epileptic drug vigabatrin (Sabril®). Radiation therapy has also been shown to deplete the body of taurine.51Fortunately, supplementation can restore taurine levels to normal and protect the retina in such cases.32,46,47,52

Taurine Helps Reverse Tinnitus

Taurine plays a vital role in hearing. In fact, studies have found that in some cases, taurine can reverse the biochemical processes behind hearing loss.53,54 Other studies have demonstrated that taurine can almost completely eliminate the ringing in the ears associated with tinnitus.55
Much of the damage to hearing occurs not in the mechanical parts of the ear, but rather in the nerve cells that convert sound waves into the electrical energy that is perceived in our brains. Like other nerve cells, these so-called “hair cells” depend on the flow of calcium ions into and out of the cell. Taurine helps restore and control normal calcium ion flow in auditory cells.53,56
Taurine improves the hearing ability in animals exposed to drugs like the antibiotic gentamicin, which is notoriously toxic to hearing.54 And in a boon for the 17% of us troubled by chronic tinnitus (ringing in the ears), taurine may be helpful in quieting the noise.57 Animal studies using human equivalent doses of 700 mg to 3.2 grams per day of taurine over the course of several weeks demonstrate near-complete resolution of tinnitus with taurine supplementation (the animals had been trained in tasks that are sensitive to distraction by tinnitus).55 And a human pilot study has shown encouraging results, with 12% of people responding to taurine supplementation.58

Solution for Seizures

While there are many types and many causes of epilepsy (seizures), a disruption in the function of excitable brain tissue underlies all of them. One of taurine’s major roles in mammalian biology is the regulation of such excitable tissues, making taurine of natural interest to scientists and clinicians who study epilepsy.59
Animal studies reveal that taurine depletion makes seizures more likely, while supplementation with taurine is capable of preventing seizures induced by a number of drugs and chemical toxins.59-61 Taurine appears to work by increasing the levels of glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), the enzyme responsible for the production of the neurotransmitter GABA, as well as by binding to so-called GABA receptors in brain cells, calming them and reducing their likelihood of participating in the random, uncoordinated electrical firing that produces an epileptic seizure.59,61
Taurine and Energy Drinks 
Energy drinks such as Red Bull, Monster, and others have been getting a lot of press recently, most of it unfavorable. There’s concern that the drink’s biggest consumers, adolescents and young adults, are at risk for sudden death and seizures following high consumption.
Because taurine is a major ingredient in these drinks, some readers may be concerned that taurine might be contributing to these ill effects.
The good news (for taurine) is that there’s no evidence at all for taurine’s involvement in any adverse outcome of consuming energy drinks. It has been well-established that the high caffeine content in energy drinks (ranging from 80 milligrams, the amount in a strong cup of coffee, to 300 milligrams per serving) is to blame for the health problems associated with the drink. Side effects of energy drinks are the same as those of caffeine intoxication, and include nervousness, jitteriness, seizures, cardiac arrhythmias, and (rarely) death.66
It’s probably best to avoid energy drinks entirely and instead focus on getting your energy from safe, natural sources. Taurine alone offers many of the advantages attributed to energy drinks, such as improved exercise performance.

Taurine Prevents and Treats Liver Disease

Increasing evidence suggests that taurine may help treat the most common cause of liver disease in the US, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (or NAFLD). Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease occurs when too much fat accumulates in the liver, and it can be caused by insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. Over time, the end result is the loss of liver function, leading to liver cirrhosis.
The human liver is our master detoxifying organ, screening our blood flow many times over each day for substances that can damage our bodies. Taurine is an integral part of the liver’s self-protective mechanisms.
Studies show that taurine defends liver cells against free radicals and toxins, helping to reduce the severity of oxidative stress-induced liver injury.62 This is vitally important in alcoholic and non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases, both of which can progress to cirrhosis and liver failure.63,64
Human studies reveal the impact of taurine on liver disease. When 24 patients with chronic hepatitis took 2 grams of taurine 3 times daily for 3 months, serum markers of liver damage, as well as markers of oxidative stress, decreased significantly, as did their elevated levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.65
Dietary Sources of Taurine 
Taurine occurs naturally in food, especially in seafood and meat.76 The amount consumed in most societies, however, is quite low. The mean daily intake from omnivore diets was determined to be around 58 mg (range of 9 to 372 mg).77 In another study, taurine intake was estimated to be generally less than 200 mg a day, even in individuals eating a high-meat diet.78 According to another study, taurine consumption was estimated to vary between 40 and 400 mg a day.77
Successful clinical studies with taurine have used daily doses of 1,500 to 3,000mg.14,20,23,37,65 It is challenging to obtain this amount of taurine from traditional dietary sources.
Taurine is made by the body from the metabolism of the amino acid cysteine.9,10 Aging can reduce the amount of taurine made from cysteine, thus making taurine supplementation desirable in maturing individuals.12,51,79
Taurine is not abundant in most plant foods.7 On average, non-vegetarians typically eat around 43-76 mgof taurine per day.77 Vegans have been shown to have lower blood levels of taurine.80


Taurine is the most abundant amino acid you’ve never heard of. Strong evidence suggests that groups with the longest life spans consume higher amounts of taurine than those of us in the rest of the world. High intakes of taurine could be the underlying factor in the world’s longest-living populations—and for good reason.
Taurine supplementation can mitigate the damaging effects of fat, glucose, and excess insulin. Taurine strengthens and protects heart muscle cells and the system of blood vessels that supplies blood throughout the body, helping to protect against atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.
And taurine protects vision and hearing. It can prevent and alleviate seizures, and it has been shown to treat the most common cause of liver disease in the United States.
With epidemiological evidence that it contributes to the longevity of famously long-lived groups, taurine belongs on the short-list of supplements necessary for maintaining optimal health in the face of aging.
If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.
  • It increases the action of insulin, improving glucose tolerance, and acting as an antioxidant.67
  • It is vital for the proper function of the minerals potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sodium.68
  • Taurine regulates heart rhythm, cardiac contraction, blood pressure, and platelet aggregation,69,70 and regulates the excitability of neurons.69
  • It detoxifies liver cells of various toxins.71-74
  • It helps form bile acids and maintains cell membrane stability.9
  • It reduces the synthesis of lipids and cholesterol that are associated with atherosclerosis.75

What Foods Contain Taurine?


Taurine is a sulfur-containing amino acid. However, unlike other amino acids, taurine is not a constituent of any protein. Instead, it exists free in intracellular fluids. Adult humans are capable of synthesizing taurine from the essential amino acids methionine and cysteine, although they still may require a small amount of dietary intake. Newborns cannot synthesize taurine directly and do require dietary intake, according to a 1977 study reported in the journal "Neonatology." A number of foods contain taurine.


Fish contain high levels of taurine. The Department of Molecular Biosciences at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California Davis reports that whole capelin contains 6.174 g of taurine per kilogram of dry weight. Cooked dungeness crab contains 5.964 g of taurine per kilogram of dry weight. Whole mackerel contains 9.295 g of taurine per kilogram of dry weight and Alaskan salmon fillets contain 4.401 g of taurine per kilogram of dry weight.


Animal meat is a good source of taurine. A variety of large animals. including birds and insects, all contain taurine. Mechanically deboned beef contains about 197 mg taurine per kilogram of dry weight. Beef liver contains about 2.359 g taurine per kilogram of dry weight. Lamb contains about 3.676 g taurine per kilogram of dry weight and chicken liver contains about 6.763 g taurine per kilogram of dry weight, according to a UC Davis study reported in the "Journal of Animal Physiology" in 2003.

Human Breast Milk

Infants require dietary intake of taurine. Human breast milk has an excellent supply. Initial four- to five-day postpartum breastmilk, also known as colostrum, contains high levels of taurine. Gradually the amount of taurine in breastmilk reduces and by 30 days postpartum, there is roughly 40 percent of the peak levels. Because taurine is important in the development of the brain and eyes, baby formula manufacturers have begun adding it to artificial baby milks.

Sea Algea and Plants

While vegetables grown on land do not contain taurine, sea algae does contain taurine, according to a 1997 study reported in the journal "Plant Physiology."

Eggs: A Natural Source of Taurine


Taurine is an amino sulfonic acid, which is a compound that your body produces from the amino acids found in protein foods. Specifically, your body uses the amino acid cysteine to produce taurine, which promotes cardiovascular and neurological health. As eggs contain large amounts of cysteine, they are one of the best foods for boosting intake of taurine.

Taurine Content

According to Dr. Maurice Shils and colleagues, researchers have yet to establish the exact taurine content in most foods. However, as all animal products contain taurine, eggs naturally add some taurine to your diet.

Cysteine Content

Because your body produces all of the taurine that it needs from cysteine, levels of this amino acid are probably a good indicator of the taurine your body will produce from eggs. One large hard-boiled egg provides approximately 150 milligrams of cysteine. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, you should try to consume 15 milligrams of cysteine per kilogram of body weight to meet your daily needs. This works out to approximately 1,100 milligrams of cysteine for a 160-pound person, so a single egg can provide more than 10 percent of the daily cysteine needs for many people.

How Does Taurine Work in the Body?


You get taurine, an amino acid, from the protein-containing foods you eat, and your body can also make it out of the amino acids cysteine and methionine combined with vitamin B-6. This abundant amino acid plays a number of essential roles in the body and may also limit your risk for certain health conditions.

Roles in the Body

Your body uses taurine and other amino acids as building blocks to form whatever proteins it needs, including muscle. Taurine is also important for the formation of bile for the digestion of fats, the development and function of the retina, the maintenance of cell membranes and the release of the neurotransmitters that carry signals between nerve cells.

Improving Heart Health

Taurine helps keep your heartbeat regular, according to the New York University Langone Medical Center. Although more research is necessary, a review article published in "Experimental & Clinical Cardiology" in 2008 notes that taurine may help lower blood pressure and prevent against ischemia-reperfusion injury when blood returns to your tissues after they've been temporarily deprived of oxygen. In addition, taurine may regulate the amount of calcium in cells, limit clogged arteries and act as an antioxidant to help limit inflammation. Thus, it may be helpful for people suffering from heart disease, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis and diabetic cardiomyopathy.

Protecting the Nervous System

Taurine helps develop your nervous system and protect it from damage, including the potentially adverse effects of glutamate. It may also help limit your risk for neurodegenerative diseases, according to an article published in "Current Opinions in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care" in November 2006, although further studies are necessary for verifying this effect.

Preliminary Research Results

An animal study published in "Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology" in 2013 found that taurine appears to increase nitric oxide and testosterone levels in aged rats, thus increasing their sexual response. Another animal study published in "Hearing Research" in December 2010 found taurine may improve tinnitus symptoms. Taurine may also increase endurance by limiting muscle fatigue, according to an animal study published in "Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology" in 2009. This amino acid appears to limit the risk for diabetes and its complications as well, according to a study published in "Amino Acids" in May 2012. Further studies are necessary to determine whether taurine has these same beneficial effects in people.

Recommended Dosage of Taurine

Taurine is an amino acid. Your body requires numerous amino acids, as they play a role in almost every vital physiologic process including muscle growth, neurologic function, protection of cells and proper function of the immune system. Taurine is made up from two other amino acids -- methionine and cysteine. Taking in the proper amount of taurine can help your body perform at its optimum level.

Function of Taurine

Taurine is most often given with other medications to treat congestive heart failure. Further clinical uses include treatment for cystic fibrosis, exposure to toxic substances and liver disorders. Though not the primary treatment for this condition, taurine is used in conjunction with more powerful medications to improve prognosis and lessen serious complications in patients.


The recommended dosage of taurine is usually less than 3,000 mg per day, explains. At this dosage, your body is able to use taurine to power vital processes and excrete any excess via the kidneys. However, at higher doses, taurine may cause unintended side effects. There have been no comprehensive studies on the effects of taurine if taken in large doses or for a long period of time. Consult your doctor prior to taking large amounts of taurine.

How Taurine Works

Taurine is not a true amino acid and as such is not incorporated into proteins. Therefore, free taurine is able to move through various tissues such as the brain, heart and skeleton. This allows taurine to play a role in many biological tasks like detoxification, stabilization of the cell membrane and control of calcium levels. Patients suffering from congestive heart failure require strict calcium control and strong membranes, while those with liver disease will need extra detoxification.

Sources of Taurine

Taurine is found in most meats, fish and breast milk. Taurine is also commonly added to infant formula because neonates often have a difficult time synthesizing taurine. Many dietary supplements also contain taurine. Though unproven, taurine is purported to enhance athletic performance and is therefore an ingredient in numerous energy drinks. Before taking taurine supplements or energy drinks containing taurine make sure you read their labels to insure that you are not taking more than the recommended daily dose of taurine.